Thursday, November 7, 2013

National HALF Novel Writing Month

Lately some of my Facebook friends are posting cryptic numbers as their status update. 2578. 2319. Or: "2765 plus shiny stove." 

What can this mean?

Because they are fellow writers, I know it means that they are participating in National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated NaNoWriMo, a program where folks commit themselves to write an entire 50,000 word novel from start to finish in the month of November - a month, I might add, that has only 30 days, including Thanksgiving, at that. It's a wonderfully liberating exercise: the 50,000 words don't have to be good, they just have to be written down and toted up. So it's the perfect antidote to the paralysis of perfectionism. Yet, as often as not, people who sign up for NaNoWriMo find that their 50,000 frantically dashed off, carelessly crafted words end up being pretty darned good, after all. (And a lot of kitchens get cleaned as people try to postpone the toil of meeting their daily word quota.)

I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, although I've been sorely tempted. But this year I have my own alternative writing commitment for the month of November: writing the first book for my new chapter book series, The Nora Notebooks, the book tentatively titled The Trouble with Ants. (This is the series about the serious, scientific girl who has an ant farm.) My contract specifies that the book is to have 25,000 words, or about 125 manuscript pages. It's due December 15, which means I have to write it in November so that I can revise it during the first half of December. As of this moment, 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 7, I haven't really started. All I have is the synopsis and first chapter that I submitted to Knopf/Random House months ago to get the contract

But, hey, 25,000 words is only HALF as much as my fellow writers are churning out for NaNoWriMo. So I'd be fine even if I started on November 15, right? But I'm not going to start on November 15. I'm going to start today, as soon as I click PUBLISH for this blog post.

So if you're a Facebook friend of mine, and you see strange numbers appearing in my posts, now you'll know why. It will mean that I've written that many words today about a girl and her ant farm.

Ready, set, write!

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